Demonstrating Scalable Very Energy Efficient Retrofits for Low Income, Multifamily Housing

Demonstrating Scalable Very Energy Efficient Retrofits for Low Income, Multifamily Housing

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.


Palo Alto, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Research project and final report are complete. Research findings indicated that the retrofits reduced electric energy use by 22%. Gas usage was reduced by 60% for water heating and 17-23% for space heating. This project was highlighted in a CEC webinar in 2017, the 2016 American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, and at the US DOE's Better Buildings website. Information learned from this project was used in future energy upgrades to other properties owned by project partner, LINC Housing. This included focusing on retrofits that are less disruptive to tenants. This concept was later used in the project partner's properties in Ontario and Fresno.

The Issue

Multifamily housing is a very difficult market segment to address due to split incentives, and lack of limited technical and financial education for owners. An owner wishing to pursue energy efficiency improvements must contract with an energy auditor, a design engineer, a construction manager, one or more contractors, a lawyer or accountant (to handle subsidies and/or debt financing), and a consultant to train residents and maintenance staff. Because affordable housing owners can’t or won’t raise rents, high utility costs can create a downward spiral that threatens the viability of the property, and causes owners to forego routine maintenance and worsen energy use.

Project Innovation

This project developed packages of energy-efficiency measures that can be used for deep energy efficiency retrofits of low-income multifamily properties. Examples of measures included are duct insulation, air sealing of building envelope, solar thermal water heating, LED lighting, smart thermostats, and spray foam roof insulation. Measures were installed and demonstrated in 30 apartment units at the Beachwood multifamily complex in Lancaster, CA, owned by project partner LINC.

Project Benefits

This project developed retrofit packages for low income, multifamily apartments with different magnitudes of energy savings. The project has the potential to be replicable to other low income, multifamily properties and provide benefits to both the building occupants and owners.

Lower Costs


This project resulted in energy efficiency savings of $11,474 per year ($4,280 in gas savings to landlord, and $7,194 in electricity savings to tenants) for all retrofitted apartment units.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

By reducing energy use, this project reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 86,000 pounds annually.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Ram Narayanamurthy

Senior Project Manager



BIRA Energy


LINC Housing Corporation


Match Partners


Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.


Contact the Team